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Hard work pays off for top-three at 2014 WSOP

12 November 2014

LAS VEGAS -- When you become a member of the World Series of Poker November Nine, you face a myriad of decisions. What are you going to do with the money? What kind of sponsorships might you try to work out prior to the final table?

But perhaps the most important choice you can make is how you're going to prepare for what could be the most important poker tournament of your entire life.

The players in this year's crop took a few different approaches. November Nine veteran Mark Newhouse, who finished ninth in 2013, hardly played any poker. Unfortunately for him, he ended up with the same result, finishing ninth again.

Some players entered more tournaments. Others stuck with what they'd been doing before making the final table. But the three players who advanced beyond Monday's marathon final table session all put in a tremendous amount of work to put themselves in the best position to win the Main Event and the $10 million first-place prize.

Jorryt van Hoof, who finished third for $3.8 million, worked on his game with a group of poker-playing friends. He also had the hardest working rail, with a gang of players watching the ESPN feed on a 30-minute delay and relaying information to him so he could adjust his play accordingly.

"It's easy to get information overload," said van Hoof. "So we really talked the thought process through. We had a spreadsheet and a couple of guys discussing what to tell me, and we had one captain, a good buddy of mind, and he basically gave me the information, whatever they felt was useful for me."

As an online cash game specialist, Stephensen didn't have much tournament experience. So he approached Scott Seiver, who is considered by many to be one of the top live tournament pros in the world, for coaching.

"To prepare for something as big as this, you want the best," said Stephensen. "He has a really deep understanding of no-limit (Hold'em) compared to other tournament pros. I learned a lot from him."

"There are a lot of intricacies to tournament poker that is separate from the rest of poker," said Seiver. "So we spent a lot of time specifically on how to play this as a tournament, what it meant, and what you have to change because of that."

Stephensen also took advantage of the commercial breaks that interrupted play to talk to Seiver. Seiver was watching the live stream and advising Stephensen based on anything he picked up. In the end, Stephensen finished second to win $5.1 million.

"I'm thrilled," said Seiver. "I think (Stephensen) played incredibly well."

Jacobson, this year's winner, said he was so focused on preparing for the final table that he didn't even spend a minute thinking about what he'd do with the money. Like van Hoof, Jacobson leaned on his poker-playing friends for advice.

"Everyone's been very helpful," said Jacobson. "I learned so much; I really improved my game."

Perhaps the most valuable advice Jacobson received was from a few of his friends who are heads-up specialists. While he had won a few smaller tournaments and had made some big final table appearance, he hadn't posted a major win before claiming the Main Event on Tuesday.

"I dedicated a lot of time working on my heads-up game, knowing that (there was a $5 million difference between second and first)," said Jacobson. "Heads-up was by far (the weakest part) of my game, because I really don't have much experience. We practiced a lot, I've been playing versus them and they've been coaching me, and to have them here to make sure that I play a good strategy and do everything right, I felt very comfortable."

Jacobson wasn't surprised by any of the players that made it to the final three.

"I would say Jorryt and Felix were probably two of the strongest players, and also two players who just like me had been working the hardest preparing for this day," said Jacobson. "It just goes to show that hard work and dedication pays off."
Hard work pays off for top-three at 2014 WSOP is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.